Glorious Burden

There are mothers at the UN working to influence proposed policy that diminishes families and motherhood. This is my statement to those UN policy makers – let them hear from the mothers they seek to replace.

17352203_10154491320242217_5709368134985003240_nA societal movement to diminish motherhood has been in the propaganda mills of elite central planners for generations. This is spelled out in new policy being considered at the UN, and calls for “measures to recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s [and girls’] disproportionate [burden] of unpaid care of care and domestic work…”

Apparently, the propaganda has culminated to this bold moment of honesty, or, the central planners have decided they can wait no longer to win you over with spin. Bottom line: the State wants your children. For over a century, the most forward thinking elitists have prepared for victory on this point: a well-ordered State can raise a child to serve the State better than its parents can.

The State is right. If the end of raising a child is to see it serve the collective well, then the incubator of cradle to career oversight is perfect. Devoid of any real nurturing, the State can raise serfs to its service much more efficiently when love, nurturing, and family loyalty are removed.

But, if the world still wants thinkers, innovators, and people with a sense of humanity, they still need homes with mothers and fathers. Children still need to see adult human beings – appropriately sacrificing for them – to know that this is the surest way to have a life of purpose and joy.

The elitists have made a fatal mistake: they say “burden” like it’s a bad thing. C.S. Lewis once said that homemaking was the ultimate career that made all other careers possible. Policy crafters and influencers forget something as they deride and dismiss motherhood and family life: once upon a time, someone took on the burden of raising…them.aa1a98c87515e5cac989917f20590f4c

Burden indeed. What a glorious burden to be given: the charge of shaping the heart and mind of another human being – one that exists because you loved another human being.

It’s a glorious burden to lose your figure, your sleep, your mind – so you can bring another human being into the world, sit up with her when she has croup, help him get his science fair project finished, and teach him to ride a bicycle. It’s a glorious burden to lose all dignity as you leave your house in sweats that have spit up on them because you’re out of milk, and wear last year’s dress to a piano recital – your stomach in complete knots as if you were the one performing. It’s a glorious burden to read a seventh bed-time story to your children, the words slurring into near-drunken incoherence, as you are the only one who gets sleepy in this night-time ritual nearly as sacred as the family prayer.

It’s a glorious burden to be given a necklace made of macaroni, a sloppy kiss that smears spaghetti sauce on your cheek, and a tiny wad of a love note that says, “I love you, Mom – you are the BIST!” It’s a glorious burden to wander, sleepless, through a darkened house, stopping at the beds of each of your sleeping children, pouring out wept prayers of gratitude and pleading that God will watch over them when you can’t.

Here is what the elitists don’t know, or have forgotten, so far removed from such realities as humanity can be: the very thing that makes motherhood glorious is the fact that it is a burden – a back-breaking, mind-wracking, heart-stretching, soul-forging burden. It’s a glorious burden because it turns us into better, higher human beings for having taken it on.

Every human on this planet started life with a mother and a father. Not everyone takes to parenthood, and tragically, there are still too many children who don’t have the love and sanctifying sacrifice of present parents. But through the millennia, there is no alternative way of raising children that can hold a candle to it. To buy the lie that this is a burden that should be “recognized, reduced, and redistributed” is absurd and dangerous. The glorious burden of motherhood is most definitely to be recognized – as the highest thing a woman can choose to do with her life. Motherhood should be recognized, but it should be reverenced – and protected – for the endangered species that the central planners are trying to make of it.

In spite of the spin, this is the cold hard reality: in spite of the imperfect execution, there are still more parents, around the globe, that freely choose to take on parenting, because it is a glorious burden worth shouldering. Civilization depends on it.6fde27d4da1fda2a55097874defd1e9b
#MomStory
#EmpowerMothers
#LoveIsNotABurden
#CSW61

by Laureen Simper

Learn how you can tell the United Nations that Love is Not a Burden at this link.

My Value As A Mother

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It’s been a long day full of appointments, piano lessons, soccer practice and Church activities. Everyone is in bed and I am grateful for the quiet. I make my rounds checking in on each of my boys. But tonight it’s different. Tonight I wonder about my value as a mother.

I see my oldest. I smile as I watch him sleep. So easy going and carefree. My mind goes back to the times he has laid across my bed to talk about his adventures with his friends. I smile as I remember that those talks often led to him asking me for advice. How grateful I am for those talks! God knew I was the mother for my oldest during one of his hardest trials.

God knew I was the mother for my oldest during one of his hardest trials.

Next I go to the room shared by my younger two. I watch my youngest and remember his smile and laughter. He is so curious about everything! I laugh as I think back to a couple days ago when he asked if he could have one of my laundry pods to break in his hand. He was so excited when I handed him one that he ran yelling, “Dad! Dad! Mom said I can bust this!”. God knew I was the mother who could take that curious boy and turn his MANY messes into some sort of experiment.

God knew I was the mother who could take that curious boy and turn his MANY messes into some sort of experiment.

I look on the bottom bunk and there is my strong willed middle son. I remember when he and his brothers decided to hike around on the rocks with grandma. His two brothers ran ahead but he stayed with his grandmother walking patiently next to her, helping her along the rocks. God knew he needed a strong willed mother to help him navigate life. Oh how we have learned from each other!

God knew he needed a strong willed mother to help him navigate life. Oh how we have learned from each other!

Three boys with very different personalities and interests. They were sent to me by my Father in Heaven because I was the best mother for them. This realization brings a smile to my face.

I walk back to my room and see my sweet husband. He is snoring lightly and I laugh remembering how he claims that he never snores. He has given me a wonderful life! I can see that my value as a wife and mother is priceless. I do not need a day off to realize that, I only need my family.

by Michelle Boulter

  1. Michelle Boulter is very active in various efforts to protect parental rights and local education control. Im March of 2015, Michelle attended the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women where she became aware of atonal and international policies that are being created to undermine the natural rights of mothers and fathers She co-founded two pro-family organizations: Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families in an effort to encourage local policy leaders to uphold the family as the fundamental unit of society.

    Michelle is opposed to Federal Education Standards and regards it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power and a denial of state and local control. She firmly believes that no government or program should put themselves between parent and child. She believes that strong families are the key to preserving local education control.

    Michelle is married to Blake Boulter and they are the proud parents of three boys. She is currently homeschooling her youngest two and was recently elected to the Utah State Board of Education.

A Day Without Dividends

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After looking at my do-to list this morning, I seriously considered joining the national women’s strike, “A Day Without Women”. I could use the day off… and let’s face it, I’ve fantasized more than once how it would be if I truly stayed in bed all day. So, why not join with the other women in our country and let my family see what it would be like without THIS woman???

There’s only one problem…. I am a mom. I don’t work with corporate bosses, excel sheets, project reports and paid sick leave. I answer to a much higher authority…..the future of humankind!

Mothers who nurture children literally shape the future. This is not hyperbole. It’s absolutely true…. and we all know it! Why do you think there are so many special interest groups and investors who are willing to spend the big bucks to get a say in your child’s education? They KNOW the future is in your children and they want a say in how they are raised and taught.

Powerful moms also know how important it is to invest in the future by investing in their children. They know that each hug, story, lesson, curfew, assigned chore, conversation, object lesson, etc. will play a part in creating the kind of generation that will follow us. This investment isn’t to be taken lightly. Intentional mothers seriously seek guidance and direction from God to know what to give each, individual child. Unlike the greedy special interest groups that lobby congress for a piece of your child’s future, mothers are carefully attentive to every physical and emotional change in their children. Mothers gladly sacrifice to give each, individual child the care they need.

The investment that mothers make in their children does not always provide immediate dividends. Some days it seems like they have taken a huge loss…. not the kind of downturn that hurts the pocket book, but the kind of loss that hurts your heart and brings you to your knees. You know those days…. we ALL know those days. Mothers feel absolutely helpless as we watch our children that we are so invested in go through trials, sickness, or setbacks. It is times like these that a mom realizes that SHE is the one who is truly growing…… And all that she invests in her child is also an investment in herself.

And all that a mother invests in her child is also an investment in herself.

When we invest in these young ones, we find ourselves becoming better. We learn patience, love, kindness, math, science, budgeting, organizing, etc. Everything our child learns, we learn…only on a deeper level because we are learning through our child’s eyes. There is no college class or seminar that can teach this kind of wisdom. It has to be gained organically. This kind of learning never ends and can only be had through the intentional act of parenting! A mother will continue to learn through her child throughout her lifetime. Name one other career that gives that kind of dividend!

If you want true cradle-to-grave learning, become a mom. Just remember that the more intentional you are in your investment, the greater the dividends…. Then, years from now, your investments will have compounded and multiplied to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each subsequent generation learns, as you have learned, the eternal importance of investing in the future by investing in their children.

However, if you find that you can miss out on a day without pay in order to let the world know how important your influence is on our current economy…go for it. As for me, I KNOW how truly influential my job is….. and I don’t want to miss a moment of it!

By Jenny Baker

A Child’s Faith: More Precious than Diamonds

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Last year, I looked down at my hands and made the sad realization that my wedding ring’s diamond was gone. I was devastated and racked my brain to think of all the places it could have fallen out in the last 18 hours since I’d seen it last; I had taken a shower, done dishes and laundry, taken out the trash, vacuumed the house, driven carpool, gone to the gas station and on and on and on… My sweet, wise husband suggested we say a little prayer asking for divine help. We knelt and I offered an earnest prayer, explaining not only the monetary value, but also the sentimental value of such a loss and requested help with its return. We then set off on an adventure in search of the lost diamond.

It was never recovered.

Fast forward a few weeks, my nine-year-old daughter lost a school book which was soon due to be returned. We had checked every room, shelf, backpack, and corner of our home and even made calls to the public and school libraries in hopes that perhaps it had already inadvertently been returned. I had finally conceded to the fact that we would just pay the meager $8.69 or so back to the school for the lost book. That is, until my daughter, with a defeated spirit, made a comment which tugged painfully at my mother’s heart. “I don’t get it, Mom. On Sunday, I read a scripture promising if I ever needed help, I could always say a prayer and that Heavenly Father would listen and help me. I did pray for help, Mom! Why haven’t we found it?”

And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
-3 Nephi 18:20

I knew in that moment we had to find that old, worn out, used and tattered paperback book. I went to a quiet place and knelt, coincidentally in the exact spot my husband and I had knelt just a few weeks earlier, and pleaded yet another earnest prayer of seeking. The coincidence was not lost on me as I, again, explained the value of a lost item. This time, however, it wasn’t the monetary or sentimental value that had me concerned. This time, we had something of much more eternal value at stake. Something far more precious than diamonds: my daughter’s faith. I pleaded to find the book, not so that my daughter could finish her school assignment, not so my daughter could return the book, and not so I could avoid a replacement fee. I pleaded, as only a mother could, so that my daughter’s faith in prayer could be strengthened. I pleaded that my daughter could experience the blessed promises made to her in the scriptures. I pleaded that she would know she did have a Heavenly Father who hears and answers her prayers.

“There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.”
—President Boyd K. Packer, “These Things I Know”


Not five minutes after my prayer, my daughter found her book. She hugged it tightly as she told me how glad she was to have a Heavenly Father who listens to her prayers and answers them. She expressed the same gratitude in her prayers that morning before running off for the day.

I followed up with my own prayer of gratitude, not only for a Heavenly Father who listened to and answered each of our prayers but, also, for the ability to recognize the eternal perspective of the two lost items. Within a matter of seconds, the missing diamond’s value had dimmed to less than that of an old, worn out, used and tattered paperback book because hidden behind that lost book was the faith and testimony of my faith-filled 9-year-old daughter who wanted so desperately to believe in the promises offered her in the scriptures. It was a beautiful reminder that my child’s faith is far more precious than even the most sentimental, rare or exquisite diamonds I could possibly own.

By Shelby Rodgers

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The Link Between Family and Freedom

Do you ever look back at your life and smile thinking of how different it is from what you had once planned? I’m so grateful I’ve learned a lot since the days when I knew it all.

Once upon a time in my youth, I had life all planned out. I would have my important career in a skyscraper and live in a downtown apartment with easy access to the nearest major league ballpark. I would live an important, satisfying life in my urban oasis.

Fast forward to reality. I now live in a century-old farmhouse with an amazing husband who couldn’t care less about sports. I didn’t finish college. I spend my days as a stay-at-home mom caring for my husband, my daughter, a Yorkie and some horses. There are no tall buildings in sight, and I can’t even tell you the current starting lineup for my favorite baseball team. Instead, I keep busy researching rare neuromuscular diseases and other topics that were nowhere near my radar 15 years ago.

The best part is – I wouldn’t change a thing! I have no doubt that life leads you down different roads for a reason. Every step we take builds on the one before. First, I met a man I couldn’t live without, even though he took me completely by surprise and turned out to be everything I never knew I always needed. Then I became a mom and it changed my life in every way. Suddenly I had an answer for the things I had always questioned earlier in life. I used to wonder things like: How does it benefit anyone to have children and just be a stay-at-home mom? You spend your whole life raising kids just so that they can grow up to spend their whole life raising kids. Kind of a pointless cycle, I had thought. Ironically, I was blessed to grow up with the greatest mother as an example. It just took me awhile to realize that I wanted to be for someone else what she has always been for me.

My outlook changed dramatically once I was actually a mother. Our little family had a rough beginning which – following a now familiar pattern – was nothing like I thought it would be. Instead it was infinitely better! Once you feel a love like that, you can’t go back to thinking anything is more important. I realized the purpose of “just being a mom” was eternal in nature. It became so obvious that families were created to help us learn Christlike love, to learn what it means to love someone more than you love yourself, and to be willing to do anything for them. Families are where we learn sacrifice and service and unconditional love and compassion and forgiveness and all the other traits that will help us return to our Father in Heaven someday.

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That makes the family critically important and worthy of defending. In order for our families to be a laboratory of learning as we progress back to our heavenly home, we have to have the freedom to teach our children what and how we see fit to teach them. This is why I’ve taken an interest in things like education and freedom and preserving the family. All of these issues are linked.

As a society, we’re either moving toward strengthening the family or we’re moving toward letting it fail and having government step in as the caregiver.

As a society, we’re either moving toward strengthening the family or we’re moving toward letting it fail and having government step in as the caregiver. There are many forces at work in our nation trying to pull us to one side or the other. President David O. McKay once gave a talk entitled “Two Contending Forces”. In it, he talks about Satan vs. Christ and the different ways that we see these two sides contend with each other, like selfishness vs. service and state domination vs. personal liberty. He quotes Communist leaders like Marx, Lenin and Khrushchev in saying that hatred is the basis for Communism, and Christian love is an obstacle to the development of a revolution. While they may disguise their ideology with a smile, the only unity sought for is voluntary submission to their ideals.

On the other hand, Christ teaches that the greatest commandments are centered in love: love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor. Our works must be filled with love, and the noblest aim in life is to strive to make the lives of others better and happier. He likens this to motherhood – the noblest calling where work is done exclusively for others.

Satan would have us be captive and controlled by oppressive tyrants, so that our choices are not our own. In that scenario, we cannot develop into all that we have the potential to become because someone else is in charge of our destiny. Christ wants us to be free to love and serve and put our religious beliefs into action, thus spreading the light of Christ throughout the world and allowing the gospel to go forth. The talk ends with the counsel to sustain, fight for, and be willing to die for the light of Christ.
This is why I want to stand for freedom. Communism may seem like an impossibility to most Americans, but there can be no doubt that our freedoms are slowly being eroded and that traditional morality is being replaced by moral relativism where there is no right or wrong and people are encouraged to simply do whatever feels good. This kind of thinking will eventually erode our liberties.

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” A moral and religious people tend to govern themselves rather well as they strive to live a higher law. Our Constitution is based on principles of limited government, and a moral people don’t need government to tell them the right way to live. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. When we move away from being a moral society (like when religion is silenced and stigmatized), government has to move in with greater control to guide behavior. When you get the wrong people in charge of such a government, the effects are catastrophic.

Ezra Taft Benson said, “The cause of freedom is the most basic part of our religion. Our position on freedom helped get us to this earth, and it can make the difference as to whether we get back home or not.” That statement alone tells me all I need to know about which side to be on. If you wonder how you can get involved and where to begin, start by reading the address by D. Todd Christofferson at the 2016 Provo Freedom Festival. He gives the background of why religious freedom matters to us and to our families, and then gives counsel on how we can become informed, speak out, and get involved. Once you have a desire to do this, the Spirit will guide you from there on the specific actions you can take.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World states:

“We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

My only goal in this life is to return to my Father in Heaven with my eternal family intact. I believe part of that will require being accountable for what I did while I was here. I want to stand for things that matter in order to preserve the things that mean the most to me – faith, family, and freedom. If these things matter to you, choose to be involved. Choose to make a difference. It is marvelous that we can take part in preserving Godly principles in our society! The future of religious freedom – and the future of our families – depends on whether or not people of faith choose to stand. Let us rise to the challenge!

14718811_676212405873852_5523984483066766551_nAbout the Author: Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her husband and daughter. She has a passion for learning about God’s hand in American history and how it ties to the restoration of the Gospel. To share what she has learned, Stephanie has started a Facebook page – Latter-day Prophets and Patriots – which has daily thoughts from LDS prophets and apostles on government and our inspired Constitution.

Small & Simple Things

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It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Friday.

The baby is up early to breastfeed. I drag myself out of bed and retrieve baby girl from her room. I feed her, change her diaper, and put her in the bassinet to go back to sleep.

I lay back down in bed because, today, I deserve to sleep in. You see, my husband has been working sun-up to sun-down for weeks. I have been doing it all on my own with the children and I am exhausted.

It’s now about 9:00 a.m. I can hear the baby stirring. I really don’t want to get up and face the day. The boys have been up for a few hours – in and out of my bed. I didn’t REALLY get to sleep in. I get to the kitchen and the boys have helped themselves to cereal (I’m okay with that today – they can have a good breakfast tomorrow). I pour myself some granola and scarf it down before needing to feed the baby again.

While I feed the baby, my five year old slips on the wet floor. (Why is the floor even wet?)

Soon after, my three-year-old tells me he peed his pants. (Oh! THAT is why the floor is wet! Gross!)

I should exercise but the day is already getting away from me so I’ll just do it tonight. (I’m not going to do it tonight.)

I hop in the shower while the baby sits in the bouncer and the boys come in whining about numerous things. I just want some peace! Why are they fighting so much? Why am I so tired and so grumpy?

I recall the day I first held my son in my arms. Everything changed that day. I was not just Randi anymore, I was now “Jude’s mom”. And soon I became Maxwell’s mom and then Penny’s mom. Becoming a mother has truly made my life infinitely better. But today – today is terrible! Why?!

I’m sure anyone that reads this would have the simple answers for me. I know the answers too. I do, but in that moment, when I’m SO tired and I’m so overwhelmed, I don’t always remember.

——————

It’s Saturday morning. I can hear my baby waking up in her room.

I get up and retrieve this sweet, precious, miracle from her crib.

Penny’s bedroom wall is painted with flowers that I drew and painted by hand. My husband and I spent hours perfecting this floral wall for our soon-to-arrive baby girl. For months I dreamed of our daughter sleeping in her room under her bird mobile, surrounded by flowers and butterflies.

Today, my dreams are real and my baby is every bit as perfect as I knew she would be. I am so thankful that all of this is real.

I feed my baby and I notice her. Those ears are perfect. That chubby little hand grasping my finger! This morning baby girl takes her time eating. By the time she is finished, I can hear my boys stirring. I put Penny down for her morning nap.

I say my prayers and sneak into the kitchen. I turn on the scriptures on my phone. I open the shades and let the sunshine in. I scramble some eggs, put some bread in the toaster and place a bowl of fruit on the table. The boys run in. “Mom! What are you making us?!” They are so happy just to see me up! My five-year-old, Jude, says “Mom those scriptures are talking about Ammon! We learned about Ammon in primary!”

The rule in our home is that Mom always says the prayer at breakfast because I honestly need to ask for help. Every morning that we have breakfast together I pray for the Spirit to be in our home and in our hearts. I pray that we can have the ability to accomplish our tasks and that we can be kind to one another.

Today I’ll exercise. I pull out my yoga mat. Two little boys are peeking around the corner with their mats in hand. “You can join me,” I say. I don’t enjoy exercising, but having those little boys join me makes it pretty entertaining. In the shower I pray in thanks. Today is a good day. The light coming through my bathroom window is especially magical. That scripture this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.

Today, I am even going to make dinner!

Now what is the difference between these two days? The small and simple things I chose to focus on!

In the talk entitled, “By Small and Simple Things” by Susan K. Bednar, Susan says:

Come with me to my busy life as a young wife and mother. Elder Bednar was enrolled in a demanding doctoral program at Purdue University, far away from our families. We had an energetic two-year-old — energetic is kind of a mild word for the way he was — and a very young baby, very little money, and hardly any time to spend together as a family. As we struggled to balance family responsibilities, the rigors of school, and Church callings, I became more and more overwhelmed with my duties as a stay-at-home mother and wife. Many of you may have experienced some of these same emotions and frustrations.

After considerable pondering about my situation, I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. I was promised in the blessing that if I would exercise, get more sleep, eat regular meals, have meaningful prayer morning and night, and engage in more purposeful and consistent scripture study, I would receive the physical and spiritual tools to better cope with my circumstances and the discouragement I was feeling. The reason I remember this blessing so clearly is because afterwards I thought: “Doing this is going to solve my problems? These are typical ‘Sunday School’ answers.”

Sister Bednar then spoke about how she rationalized NOT doing all these things. We all could – I sure do. And in this day and age, there are loads of articles, memes, and stories about how HARD it is to be a mother. This media complains about how moms never get time for themselves and how motherhood is such a thankless job. Moms sacrifice SO much! I let those thoughts influence me sometimes, and when I do, I rationalize NOT doing the things I know I should do. I decide I’m going to “give myself a break.”

Isn’t it funny, though, how it’s not actually a break when you leave out those small and simple things?

“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

I have to share a funny little experience from the other day. I was complaining to my husband about my stress. I told him I need to learn how to manage my stress better. The next day he brought me home a pamphlet with big letters that said, “STRESS MANAGEMENT.” I laughed pretty hard but then I sheepishly opened up the flap. I wanted to see what was inside! I opened up the pamphlet and guess what it said?

Be positive
Exercise & Stretch
Relax
Meditate
Spend time with those that you love
Sleep
Manage money
Eat right

Huh.

I told my husband, “Sweetie… I already know all these things! This pamphlet gives me nothing!” And then he so sweetly asked, “Are you DOING those things?” I was put in my place.

I know that sometimes we appear to simply be “housewives.” In a world full of so many grand definitions of success, making peanut butter sandwiches and sweeping the floor three times a day doesn’t seem like much. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and tired. But when we make the choice to change our perspective, to remember why we became mothers, we realize that the little things we do for ourselves and for our families make a big difference.

Amidst the around-the-clock baby feedings, floor mopping, and sandwich making, what is it that we are working for? For me, it is exaltation. I want to live again with my Heavenly Father & Mother and my Savior Jesus Christ. And I want my family there with me.

“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

What “small and simple things” should I be doing to achieve my greater goal of exaltation?

In a General Conference talk given in April 2016, President Monson suggests three choices we can make that will help determine our destiny:

1. Choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith – a real faith, the kind of faith that will bolster our desire to choose the right.

2. Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.

3. Choose Christ.


I can testify that prioritizing the right “small and simple things” makes a big difference. I am so grateful for the guides we have been given to help us remember what to prioritize: a living prophet, the scriptures, prayer, and revelation. We can’t do it all by ourselves, but we CAN do it all through Christ.

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By: Randi Gardner

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Stop Running!

As a busy mom, I have often found myself pondering the scripture, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength” (D&C 10:4). On days when I had no sleep, a ‘to-do’ list a mile long, and sick children, I wonder how this is even possible. It wasn’t until I considered the opposite of this principle that I more fully understood what the Lord had in mind. Let me share with you what I have learned….

If there was one word that describes running faster than we have strength, I would say that it is RIGOR. We first hear about Rigour in Exodus 1:13-14. “And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: All their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” The Pharaoh commanded that the Israelites be forced to gather straw to make enough brick to fulfill an impossible quota. He would not listen to reason and lift their burden. He wanted to weaken the Israelites and force them to leave their God by requiring them to run faster and labor more than they had strength.

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A similar situation happened in the Book of Mormon under the command of Amulon;
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God. And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.” (Mosiah 24:10-11) Again, we have another person in power that required rigor in order to weaken a God-fearing people and force them to leave their God.

In Leviticus, God warns His people about rigor and commands the Children of Israel; “Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.” (Leviticus 25:43) He warns against rigor THREE TIMES!!!! I guess the Lord didn’t want His chosen people to follow after the merciless rulers of Egypt.

Fast forward many years and we find ourselves bowing under the stress and rigor that has been placed upon us. The evil in this world forces us to use all of our energy to align with current policies and laws. With every passing year, it becomes harder and harder to provide for, preside over, protect and nurture our families.

Every year, hundreds of new bills are implemented that place extra burdens on our backs. Forms to fill out, fines to be paid, taxes to be levied, and regulations to be kept come at us like a fire hose on a house plant. It is impossible for the average family to keep up with everything that is required of them. Time restraints alone keep us from attempting to even comprehend the magnitude of the heavy load that is placed upon us.

The recent buzz word in education is “rigor” or “rigorous”. Our children are expected to reach prescribed standards that do not always meet the abilities of their personal development. Teachers are also asked to spend more time reporting, preparing and assessing than they used to. The results may reflect achievement on paper, but most parents will attest that their children are overwhelmed with all they are expected to do…… and let’s face it, so are the parents.

I had a conversation with a young man who has always had his life well organized. He was the youngest of five children who had all excelled in life. His future was bright and he had always looked forward to changing the world. But lately, he had seemed depressed. His positive outlook had disappeared and he just didn’t look like himself. As we talked, he expressed that too much was expected of him. He found that the things that were easy for his older siblings were too overwhelming to him. He had decided not to go on a mission because he was worried that he wouldn’t be ready for college and career if he left for two years. His natural optimism was replaced by drudgery as he weakened under the weight of so much rigor.

Are we recognizing our current generation gap? Have we not realized that the rigorous push for a perfectly engineered society has left our youth dealing with things that even their older siblings didn’t have to endure?

What about the adults? Do we expect to be able to do all that our older siblings and parents were able to do? Have we not realized that the rigorous push for more government control in our lives has left us with very little time, money and freedom to pursue the kind of life we would design for ourselves?

This is where I have to stop myself. I could choose to feel sorry for myself or start yelling hateful things to everyone involved in this new kind of rigorous, social engineering. But I choose not to. Instead, I look to the scriptures and see God’s promise to His children.……

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 24:14-15)

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We have all felt our burdens being lifted in our own, personalized way. Our Heavenly Father has not forgotten us. With that in mind, we can go forward in faith and work with our politicians and representatives to help them see that these rigorous burdens have no place in our country. We can reach out to those around us in service and help lighten their load. And we can make and keep sacred covenants in order to claim the promised blessings that will help us through our trials.

Above all, we need to make sure that these burdens do not keep our family from looking to our Heavenly Father. The rigorous requirements of Pharaoh and Amulon did not keep the righteous from worshiping God, and our rigorous requirements shouldn’t either. Although other men might expect us to run faster than we have strength, the Lord has promised us that He will lift our burdens and that we will come off as conquerors in the end. Can there be a better promise for our times?

“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; be diligent unto the end.
 
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:4-5)

-By Jenny Baker

Why the Book of Mormon Matters

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In 2005, our stake presidency challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by June 30. I had never taken one of those challenges to read it more quickly than in a year, but I was serving with the Laurels, and wanted to walk the walk with them. It ended up being easier than I expected, and I loved the experience – so much so, that I decided to start over again July 1, and read it again by December 31. When President Hinckley challenged the church to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year, I was happily beginning the book of Jacob. By December, I had resolved to read the Book of Mormon twice a year for the rest of my life.
 
What I didn’t know was this: Heavenly Father was preparing me for a coming storm. Three years later, a storm hit – and that decision to read the Book of Mormon twice yearly turned out to be the spiritual equivalent of building an ark. I would not have survived that storm if I had not responded to God’s invitation to make this book a part of me.

This is the book that has mattered the very most in my life. It’s the book that made the Bible make sense to me. It’s the book that has given me the best lessons from the best friends. The “characters” in this book are real people, who I absolutely cannot wait to meet some day – to thank them for writing THEIR lessons so I could learn from them.

Thank you, Nephi – for being willing to consistently and repeatedly do back breaking, hard things your entire life, because you knew it was God’s will, and because of that, He would help you.

Thank you, Abinadi – for looking evil in the face and calling it what it is. It has mattered to see you do it in the face of unspeakable consequences.

Thank you, Alma, Sr. – for bucking the worldly culture of your peers in an effort to save a man’s life, and for taking the time to write every single thing down that that martyred man taught you. I can barely speak of how it has mattered to know you prayed for a wayward son, and that because of YOUR faith, God rescued that son. And thank YOU, Alma, Jr. – for your undeviating course after that rescue, and for your tender handling of your own wayward son.

Thank you, Zeezrom, for your integrity when called out on your lies. That’s the hardest things people have to face, and though you get little press for your miraculous conversion, I love that your story is included, and that you are listed among the mighty missionaries.

Thank you, to a man whose name isn’t even recorded – Lamoni’s father – for teaching me how to utter the most important prayer anyone ever utters in his lifetime – “I will give away all my sins to know Thee.” Thank you, king of the Lamanites – for your guileless humility in being willing to give up anything – everything – for the privilege of knowing God.

Thank you, Captain Moroni, for loving liberty and for teaching your people to love it, for preparing them to preserve it, for seeking revelation in how to physically fight evil, for fully and completely understanding and acting on fixed, correct principles.  Thank you, Pahoran, for being an amazing example of true charity when unjustly criticized and accused by a friend.

Thank you to another Nephi, generations later, for sitting at the feet of the resurrected Jesus Christ, and recording every word He uttered.

Thank you, Mormon, for the years it must have taken you to sift through the generations of history of your people – a decaying, dying society – for doing the spiritual preparation necessary to receive revelation as to which records we needed – I needed – to live in our own decaying, dying society, and remain a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Thank you, brother of Jared, for daring to go before God with physical needs, and with an outlandish suggestion of your own as to how God could meet those needs. Thank you for warning your children that kings lead to bondage. Nations generally do not heed that warning, but it stands as a witness to nations through the ages – wicked leaders will harm their people.

Thank you, Moroni, for your courage in living on the run for more than 20 years, for protecting these sacred stories with your life, for telling a teenager where you hid them 1400 years later, and teaching him why these STORIES are important for our time.

This is a book about Jesus Christ. I love Him, and I love this record of some of His finest disciples, whom I also love. It has mattered to know them. It has mattered to read their stories, and liken their experiences to mine. It has mattered that they literally gave their lives, in a variety of ways, to being His disciples, so I can better learn how to be one.  

If I ever had to go into hiding in the wilderness and become a book, this is the book I want to become. I am a witness – if becoming this book becomes the quest of your lifetime, in the end, you will have become like Jesus Christ. If you love Jesus Christ, you will find Him in this book.  It’s a handbook full of patterns – not just patterns of how to become LIKE Him, but how to have Him BE WITH YOU. 

This. Book. Matters. It matters most of all.
 

By Laureen Simper

My Gift to Jesus

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I grew up knowing that there was no home on earth that celebrated Christmas better than mine.  Our Christmas Eves were so rich in tradition that I think I anticipated that night more than Christmas morning itself. By the time Christmas Eve had rolled around our large assortment of eclectic Christmas decorations were each secured in their traditional spots, our thirteen uniquely handmade stockings knit from my Grandmother hung from the fireplace, and each of us would eagerly gather in the family room for sibling gifts and a chance to open a new pair of pajamas.

Christmas Eve was simply magical. It was the time we delivered our brightly frosted and overly embellished sugar cookies to our neighbors and anticipated the annual neighborhood caroling where all the neighbors gathered around a bonfire centered at the fork in the road of our street. We bundled up with coats and scarves sometimes leaving just our mouths exposed for singing and sipping hot chocolate.  We sang songs about Rudolph, sleigh bells and the baby Jesus as the lightly falling snow would perfectly dust our narrow streets.  Everything about Christmas Eve was absolutely perfect. It was everything I wanted and everything I thought Christmas was all about.

Christmas Eve on 1984 forever changed the way I think of Christmas.  It was only an hour or so before the neighbors would gather together for caroling that an ambulance quietly pulled up to our driveway to take my Dad back to the hospital. My family had so anticipated having him home for Christmas. His hospital stays had been too frequent and this year, all my family really wanted was to be together for Christmas.  His health had rapidly declined in the few days he was home and left him weak and unable to speak.  I think we all felt defeated as we wondered if the cancer he had successfully battled three years previously had returned.

I jumped in the car with my oldest brother, Chris, and we followed the ambulance to the hospital. Being the middle child in a large family seldom gave room for time alone with my Dad. Through his sickness my Mom and my older siblings spent many days caring for him at home and in the hospital. The previous few years when he was hospitalized for surgery and cancer treatment my brothers often took turns sleeping on the couch in his room so they could care for him. My contribution usually came at home babysitting my younger brothers and sisters.  Something that night, however, felt different. I knew I needed to go to the hospital to be where he was.

Back at home, my Mom was in an impossible situation. For three years she tried to balance being the caretaker and support to my Dad, while also being a mother to me and my ten siblings.  Just days before she had brought my dad home so we could all celebrate Christmas together. My baby brother had just turned three and my little sisters were not much older and she wondered how in the world she could leave them alone again, especially on Christmas Eve. 

As if her thoughts were instinctively known, the phone rang. It was our next door neighbor who had seen the ambulance lights.  She told my Mom that Christmas had come early and gifts for the children would be arriving on the doorstep. Within moments, Santa bells rang from the front porch and on the doorstep sat three of the newest and most coveted toy of the season, Cabbage Patch Dolls, one boy and two girls.  Surely they had been dolls meant for her son and two daughters who were the same age as my younger siblings. My little brother and sister were thrilled and consumed with their new gifts which gave my mom a chance to exit quickly to the hospital, knowing she was leaving happy children at home.

I’m not sure whether it was because it was Christmas Eve, or just the circumstance of our arrival, but everything in the hospital felt cold and dreary when we arrived. It certainly didn’t feel anything like Christmas.  I walked with my brother down the hall and found my Dad. His appearance had changed the last few years. Cancer had taken a toll on his once strong body and his dark, thick hair taken by the treatments, was now coming in sparse and gray (although he would contend it was more like a shade of blonde). My Dad had the best sense of humor and I knew he would be joking around, trying to lighten the situation for others if he were able, but tonight he was not. 

I stared out the window into the black sky. We were a night’s sleep from our traditional Christmas morning line up.  In anticipation and only by the glow of the blinking Christmas lights we would line up youngest to oldest on the stairs and wait as my Dad went to check to “see if Santa came” that year. The smell of the breakfast casserole cooking in the oven couldn’t tempt us to eat until after our gifts were open. In the family room we all had our designated place where our gifts were gathered, even the one that was left unwrapped from Santa.

With eleven children taking turns opening presents seemed to make the morning last forever. My Dad would walk around with a big black garbage bag picking up all of the wrapping and making jokes about the bomb that seemed to have gone off in the room.  Some of us would spend the day in our pajamas while others tried on their new clothes. We would play games together, eat turkey and ham sandwiches and open the gifts hidden in our knitted stockings that hung from the mantel. These were the days that met every childhood expectation.

When I turned to look at my Dad, I suddenly realized we were alone. Approaching his bedside, the tears started flowing. My Dad loved his children with everything that he was.  He was: funny, smart, courageous and faithful to the end. He was dedicated to our family in every way, including his determination to “lick” the cancer that threatened to take him from us.  He couldn’t speak, but looked at me intently. “I love you Dad.  You have been the greatest father and more than I could have ever asked for.”   With all the strength he could muster he turned his cheek so I could kiss him over and over. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” I told him again and again.  

By the time my mom and my older siblings arrived, my Dad was rapidly fading as each breath he took was greatly labored. Each person there including my Dad’s mother, all had a chance to express their love to him. Then, just as my mind was coming to the realization that he might not make it, he quietly slipped away. Silence in the room was only broken with tears and quiet sobbing. As difficult as it was to comprehend his passing, it has been even more difficult to explain the peace that filled his hospital room that night, which lingered with our family for weeks.  My Dad was gone, but it felt as if he were still there with his arms wrapped around our family in love. 

The snow was lightly falling as we arrived in our dark, quiet home early Christmas morning.  My mom knew she would soon have the task of telling all of my younger brothers and sisters that our Dad wouldn’t be coming home. When everyone awoke she gathered us around on my parent’s king sized bed and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is your Dad is out of pain. The bad news is he won’t be coming home; he has gone to live with our Heavenly Father. Today is a day we think about baby Jesus and everything he has given to us. He has given us the greatest gift of all. Do you think you could possibly give Jesus a gift today by letting your Dad go back to be with him?”

From that day on, Christmas changed for our family. Our seasonal traditions stayed the same. In fact, last year a few of us made it back to our old neighborhood for caroling with the neighbors, but since that Christmas many years ago, we have a greater focus on the real blessings and meaning of Christmas.  Many Christmas Eve’s that followed were sure to bring a kind act of service from a neighbor. Instead of Cabbage Patch Dolls, hams were left on our front steps, or envelopes with anonymous donations were tucked away in our mailbox. One year we even received a five course meal from a lady up our street with ten children of her own.

The love and generosity that comes at Christmas time has always astounded me.  Since that year, I have reflected often that sometimes in life we are asked to give gifts that come at great personal sacrifice, while other times our gift is to receive the offering of another.   The giving and receiving of these gifts is symbolic of the gift we were given years ago sung about at neighborhood bonfires and churches around the world.  When the Savior’s love permeates our souls it can heal our pain and mend our hearts. It prompts us to push selfishness aside and act instinctively on behalf of another.  At fifteen years old, I realized it is the gift of the baby Jesus that brings goodwill to our relationships, hope to our future, and magic to our Christmas.  
 

“How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n!

So God imparts to human hearts 
The blessings of His heaven.

No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still,

The dear Christ enters in.”

-By Becky Foster
-Art by Margaret Tarrant

Family: The True Future of our Nation

With the election happening in the next few days, I want to pull away from talking about one politician or another and their vision for the future of our country. Instead, I want to talk about families, for the family is the true future of our nation.

The family is the true future of our nation.

A long time ago, my father was very ill and was confined to a hospital bed. This confinement had come after many months of struggling with health problems that had brought him from a strong man, able to conquer anything, down to a man of physical weakness.

As would any man in his situation, his physical weakness caused him to think about what is really important in life. He discovered that it wasn’t the money that he made, it wasn’t the home he had paid off, it wasn’t the car he drove or the respect from or his stature in society. No, it wasn’t any of those things. It was something much more important, much more personal, something that he loved and appreciated more than all of those things combined. As my father lay there in that hospital bed watching an episode of “Oprah”, of all things, he turned the television off and stared up to the ceiling reflectively reviewing his life.

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I am sure, as each of us will someday, he thought of the choices he had made and the things that he had achieved and he discovered that the greatest choice he had made was getting married and that his greatest achievement was his family. Nothing else that he had spent his entire life working to achieve really matter anymore. He, at a very advanced age, had finally realized that the only thing that really mattered to him was his family.

Family is all that really matters! Have all of us realized that yet? It is the answer to the question that each of us has to ask ourselves at some point in our lives. Do you already know it? Are you realizing it now? Or, are you going to wait until you are at a very advanced age while lying in a hospital bed? Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a matter of when you realize it, it only matters that you do realize it.

Do you know who does realize it? Satan.

Before we came to this earth, our Father in Heaven organized us into families from the very beginning. He understood that we would need our families to give us strength, to educate us, to give us values and beliefs. He knew that we would need the love and support that only a family can provide when things got tough. A Mother and a Father that can help us understand our place in this world and give us the insight that only a Mother or a Father can give us. Our Heavenly Father felt so strongly about families that he established temples upon the earth to seal us into eternal families. This enables our ancestors to help us as we struggle through the trials of this earthly existence.

Satan knows that the one, sure way that he can destroy us individually, as a family and as a nation, is to destroy the family. How does he do this? Can we even count all of the ways that he does? There are the obvious answers such as finances, infidelity, addiction, physical and sexual abuse, and last but not least, selfishness. He also strives to destroy the family through public policy, organizations with family-friendly names but with destructive intentions and through laws. None of this has happened overnight, for Satan is a very patient enemy. This deadly cancer that he propagates has been growing over the course of decades. Now, it has fully infested every organ and limb of our family’s body.

Today, we see the destructive forces very clearly and they are literally knocking on our doors with battering rams. It’s like a ship in the distance that looks no bigger than the tip of a pin. It takes a while for that ship to catch up with us, but as it does, it becomes bigger and bigger and more ominous looking. We are now at the point where that ship is right behind us and it is massive and it is ugly and it isn’t looking to pass us by; it is coming to crush our tiny, little life rafts we call “our family”.

We are now at the point where that ship is right behind us and it is massive and it is ugly and it isn’t looking to pass us by; it is coming to crush our tiny, little life rafts we call “our family”.

This massive ship is armed with all sorts of weapons; legislation, media (music, books and movies), educational ideas, and many other destructive weapons; I’ll leave it to you to finish the list. All of them are presented to us disguised as a beautiful cake that is iced with laws, ideas and morals that look innocent on the top, but that are actually filled with poison and destruction inside.

Mothers, Father, Children, BEWARE! Most people do not have your best interest at heart. They are not interested in protecting your family. Especially those of our legislators that are more interested in listening to the voices of the special interest groups that lobby them rather than the constituency they represent.

I encourage all of my friends and family, as you go to vote this Tuesday, do not go alone. What I mean by that is that as you enter that voting booth, go in with a prayer in your heart. Please ask for your Heavenly Father, the Father of all living, to influence your vote.

Our families…. NO!… our nation is depending on it!

By: Blake Baker